Quantifying the 'Syrian' correction
Recapping the day's news and newsmakers through the lens of CNBC.
Syrian market shocks
War typically roils the markets, but what will happen if the U.S. and other countries bomb Syria? In the least, retaliation over poison gas attacks could affect the oil market. Syria is not a major producer, but some of its neighbors are, and Western involvement could trigger social disruption that could affect supplies. Oil settled above $109 a barrel, from below $100 at the start of July.
Trouble in Syria adds to a laundry list of problems the stock market faces as summer fades into September, and it's looking like investor sentiment could transform from full throttle risk-on to a skittish environment where even the bulls are getting antsy.
"Should tensions spread to other countries in the region, we are definitely likely to see prices climb towards $120."
—Eugen Weinberg, Commerzbank
"Right now it's being introduced to the public as a surgical strike—in and out, antiseptic and not spreading. One would argue that the market is buying into that. We don't see a market that's collapsing."
—Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Annuities
In homes, easy money made ...
Has the easy money been made in homes? Maybe. The latest data from the S&P/Case Shiller index shows the gains are slowing, with prices up 0.9 percent in June, a tad below May's 1.0. Yes, prices were up 12.2 percent over 12 months, but many experts are expecting the pace to slow.
"In the single family realm, I think that there is a chance that there is weakening. The housing market has gotten very speculative and it goes through big cycles. … It's a rollercoaster, that's what these markets have become."
—Robert Shiller, Yale professor and co-founder of Case/Shiller
... And bargain basements few and far between for investors
So, if the torrid pace of home price gains is slowing, what's the problem? After housing suffered an historic pummeling, investors went on a bargain-shopping binge for existing homes. After all, they had the cash, and they had only weak competition from ordinary buyers. In some rebounding markets, investors made more than half of all purchases. Now there just aren't as many bargain-basement homes to buy, and investors' share of purchases nationally fell to 16 percent in July, from 25 percent in early 2009.
"We definitely see the investor market cooling early in the season. You had Wall Street at some point becoming frustrated because you just couldn't buy in bulk the kinds of inventory they'd been able to get in 2012, 2011, and so those investors started to pull back."
—Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, an online real estate sales company
'Good ole days' of unreliable U.S. cars
The rebound of the U.S. car industry has been impressive, but automakers should guard against complacency. A new Consumer Satisfaction Index finds that the Big Three makes are becoming less appealing to buyers. Imports usually beat domestic brands on consumer satisfaction, but the gap is widening. Results may reflect slipping U.S. reliability as the firms ramp up production to meet growing demand.
"This could become problematic once demand slackens, making further sales growth more challenging unless customer satisfaction improves."
—David VanAmburg, director of the ACSI
Look East for biggest U.S. bond sellers
The U.S. depends on the kindness of strangers, that is, foreigners who buy up our federal debt by the trillions. In fact, about half of our debt is in foreign hands, a heavy demand that has helped keep interest rates low. Now some experts think we've conned ourselves into believing that demand will always be there.
New government data show a record $40.8 billion of net foreign selling of Treasurys in June, almost all by China and Japan. It was the fifth straight month of outflows. When the Federal Reserve begins to wind down its quantitative easing program, interest rates could jump as foreign investors bail out of Treasurys to avoid a fall in bond prices.
"When the Fed stops buying Treasurys, foreign and domestic investors will do so as well. ... It would be wise to prepare your portfolio for a massive interest rate shock in the near future."
—Economist Michael Pento, president of Pento Portfolio Strategies
—By Jeff Brown, Special to CNBC.com